Change in belief of racial stereotypes over time

I picked up a textbook on race relations in the United States and globally from a used bookstore a while back. The book is called Race and Ethnic Relations: American and Global Perspectives (Eight Edition) by Martin N. Marger. There was an interesting chart compiling data on white americans’ stereotypes of blacks over time (p. 199). See below:

Some beliefs were resilient. Most dropped in percentage of believers. Some saw odd upwards streaks at the end. One of these is easily explainable. It seemed the percentage of people who believed “Blacks care less for the family than whites.” was falling quite low down to 18% in 1978. Then it shoots to the highest it’s ever been at 40% in 1995. Note b tells us this specific number, unlike the others, was gathered from a different survey. The question asked was markedly different, reading “Blacks have less family unity.” This statement reads more as a well-intentioned critique than the previous statement which reads as a ridiculously racist statement in most people’s minds. To say anyone doesn’t care for their family is quite a bit ruder than to say their family isn’t very united.

Statements about culture, ambition, and welfare usage shot down. To say blacks have less native intelligence than whites is maybe the sharpest, going from 39 to 12%. To say blacks have less ambition than whites was pretty popular in the 1960’s, but has gone out of fashion, dropping from 66% to 29%. And to say black people want to live on handouts had a surprisingly moderate decrease. Yes, it was almost half the group which stopped believing this, though I still thought this statement was maybe the least likeable out of any of them listed.

The crime questions seem pretty resilient. The percentage of people who agreed that “Blacks breed crime.” had only dropped a few percent over time, although the most recent data they provide was 1978. It is hard to say if this statement had lost popularity or is still just as common (or more common!). The belief that blacks are more violent than whites provides newer data and shows no trend away from where it was in 1967. In 1967, 42% of the white population believed this was true. This had dropped down to 34% in 1978. Then it shot up a bit to 38% in 1995. I will look for some data on this.

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